SANYO VPC-CS1 and VPC-SH1 Camcorders Review

We present a side by side comparison of two small, high definition, SANYO camcorders at the $300 and $400 range. The VPC-CS1 is a pistol grip pocket camera with a 10x zoom and a thin form factor. The VPC-SH1 is a more traditional style camcorder sporting 30x advanced zoom and a multitude of features.

SANYO has offered up two of its newest Exacti “Dual Cameras” to fulfill our need for HD video and high resolution stills. The new cameras support the new SDXC memory cards for many hours of potential recording, and Mini HDMI output to instantly show off the 1920×1080 HD video in its full clarity. In this review, we compare some features of these tiny SANYO camcorders.

VPC-CS1

The VPC-CS1 may be pocket-size, but it would hardly be fair to compare it to pocket camcorders, such as the Flip, or the Creative Vado HD. To start with, the CS1 offers a 10x advanced zoom, and a 9 point autofocus system with face detection. A mini HDMI port on the front means it is ready to share photos and video in HD at any time. Add to that 8 megapixel stills, and you have features comparable to many larger video cameras.

The CS1 sports 1920×1080 video at 30 and 60 fps, as well as a variety of resolutions down to 640 x 480. Objects are sharp and detailed, and colors are vibrant in normal lighting situations. Low light suffers somewhat, but no more than is expected from such a small camcorder. Autofocus is quick to react and adjust the shot for many different shooting modes, including face detection. Still images can be captured as large as 8 megapixels, and share an above average quality with the video.

Most of the outer casing of the CS1 is a lightly textured, silver plastic that shows almost no fingerprints, offers a good amount of grip, and provides above average scratch resistance. Unfortunately, most of the gripping surface is not a textured plastic, but a slick, mirrored plastic surface running around the entire edge of the camcorder, and covering most of the 2.7 inch flip out screen. This high-gloss plastic seems to be an aesthetic choice that won out over a better, more textured surface that would be easier to hold, and wouldn’t show so many fingerprints. This is a case where “a little rough around the edges” would have helped us have a more secure grip on the camera.

Opening up the LCD screen reveals the battery compartment, along with the menu and navigation controls. On the back edge of the camcorder rests the Record, Zoom, and Photo buttons, with the SDHC card slot directly underneath. The controls are placed comfortably for thumb use, but they seem to cause your hand to jostle the camcorder when zooming or taking a photo, only adding shakiness to the video, and making the stabilization work harder. The Screen itself performs its job well, and is visible in bright sunlight, but it doesn’t seem to be an accurate color representation of the video being shot. Colors are more muted than what is in the finished product, and the frame rate of the monitor can make fast action look choppy while recording, though the final video will still be quite smooth.

The CS1, unfortunately, suffers from some minor cosmetic and design issues that keep it from being a great camcorder. Despite these complaints, the bottom line is that The VPC-CS1 is a very small camera that takes good video and still images. Even with its flaws in the details, this new SANYO deserves a serious look when shopping for that new pocket size camcorder.

VPC-SH1

Going for a more traditional approach to camcorder form factor, the SANYO VPC-SH1 is a tiny, simple, and feature-packed version of the video cameras we have grown accustomed to over the years. Located on the back are the controls for navigation, video and photo recording, and menu options as fairly large, comfortable buttons. Opening the 2.7-inch screen reveals the USB/AV and mini HDMI Ports, as well as the SDXC card slot and power button. As you would expect, there is a standard 14-inch tripod mount on the bottom, but a little less expected is the photorecord buttons added just above the lens for easy underhanded shooting. Mounted underneath the lens are an on-camera light and a DC power input for charging and recording from wall power.

Video comes in quite a few different flavors, ranging from 1920 x 1080 at 30 or 60 fps, down to 192 x 108 at 600 fps for fun with super slow motion. A 35mm equivalent wide angle lens provides a fairly comfortable field of view, and offers 23x optical zoom. A 9-point autofocus system performs its job well for most situations, but might be a little sluggish for lots of fast action and sports. The quality of the video at the high resolutions is commendable in medium and bright lighting situations. Colors and contrast are accurate, and details are sharp and clear. In dim or low light, we found it produced a little more noise that what we had expected, but it isn’t a deal breaker for the average shooting situation. Digital image stabilization is helpful and welcome on such a light-weight camcorder. One of the things that we found very convenient is the MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 file format. This fairly standard file type allows for easy importing, editing, and sharing online, and shows SANYO’s dedication to user-friendliness.

This being advertised as a “Dual Camera” it wouldn’t be fair to ignore the still photo quality of the SH1. Pictures can easily be snapped at any time with a large, conveniently located photo button on the back of the unit. Like the video, the 10 megapixel photos have good color, and accurate contrast, though suffer slightly from a little extra noise in dim and low light. Because the images are interpolated up to 10 megapixels from a 4 megapixel sensor, they lack the sharpness and detail that a dedicated point-and-shoot would provide. We wouldn’t recommend the SH1 for large framed art for your living room, but for quick snapshots, and online sharing, it performs quite admirably.

The glossy black finish covering most of the camera looks nice, but we were disappointed in how easily the plastic body was scratched and scuffed. The light weight of the camcorder is nice when toting it around all day. Battery life is average from a small lithium-ion, giving us an average of 60-minutes recording time. It is disappointing to note that the SH1 cannot accept larger, high capacity batteries, because the battery resides inside the unit, instead of attached to the back, where it would have room for expansion. Overall though, the design fits comfortably in most size hands and allows easy access to menu and function buttons.

The VPC-SH1 is a strong contender for your next small camcorder purchase. While it isn’t without its flaws, a solid lineup of features in a comfortably sized package should entice smart buyers.


Tech Specs: VPC-CS1

Effective Pixels: Photo Approx. 3.3 Megapixels,
Video Approx. 2.8 Megapixels (in Full HD/HD mode), Approx. 3.3 Megapixels (in SD mode)

Image Sensor: 1/5 inch CMOS sensor, Approx. 3.4 Megapixels (total)

Recording Media: SD, SDHC, SDXC Memory Card ; Internal Memory: Approx. 50MB

Recording File Format: Photos: JPEG, Videos: ISO standard MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (.MP4)

Lens: 10x zoom lens; Aperture: F=2.8 (W) – 3.0 (T);

Focus distance: f=3.2 to 28.8mm; Galvanometer method structure, Auto focus: 9 groups, 12 elements (3 aspheric elements, 6 aspheric surfaces), Built-in neutral density filter

Photo: f=38-342mm (=35mm) 9x optical zoom

Video: f=38-380mm (=35mm) 10x Adv. zoom

Photo Range: 50cm to infinity (wide), 1.0m to infinity (tele) / Super macro: 1cm – 1m (wide)

Digital Zoom Shooting: 10x max, Playback: 51x max (8M mode,varies
with resolution)

Low-light sensitivity: Approx. 15 lux (Auto mode, 1/30 sec.), Approx. 4 lux (High-sensitivity/ Lamp mode, 1/15 sec.)

Sensitivity: Auto (when LED is off, ISO50 – 400, when LED is on, ISO50 – 800), Manual (ISO50/100/200/400/800/1600, Switching system)

Digital Image Stabilizer Photos: Multi-Calculation electric image stabilizer; Videos: Electronic image stabilizer

Uploading Function: Automatic Eye-Fi uploading On/Off, power management, and access point management

LED Light: LED Light On/Off

LED Light Range: Approx. 10cm to 1m Super macro (wide)

Audio Microphone: Built-in stereo (Sound Zoom), Speaker: Built-in monaural (L+Rch output)

LCD Monitor: 2.7 inch, Low-temperature polysilicon TFT color widescreen LCD display, Approx. 230,000 pixels (7-level brightness, 285 degrees rotation)

Interface: (AV output) Video: HDMI/Composite video (NTSC/PAL Audio: Stereo sound

USB: 2.0 (high-speed mode compatible)

Power Source: Lithium-ion battery x 1(DB-L80 included: 700mAh) AC-adaptor

Power Consumption Using battery: 3.5 W (when shooting videos)

Approx. Battery Life: Photo: approx. 200 shots (CIPA standard) Video: Continuous video filming: ~ 60 min. (Full-HD mode) /Continuous playback: ~210 min.

Price:$300

Strengths

  • Easy to Use
  • Small Size
  • Good Quality Video

Weaknesses

  • Poor gripping surface
  • Inaccurate LCD color

Tech Specs: VPC-SH1

Effective Pixel: Photo Approx. 4-Megapixels, Video Approx. 3.5-Megapixels (in Full HD/HD mode), Approx. 4-Megapixels (in SD mode)

Image Sensor: CMOS sensor, 1/3.6 inch Approx.4.3-Megapixels (total)

Recording media: SD, SDHC, SDXC Memory / Internal Memory: Approx. 50MB

Recording file format: Photos: JPEG, Videos: ISO standard MPEG-4 AVC/H.264

Lens: 23x optical zoom lens; Aperture: F=3.5 (W) – 4.1 (T); Focus distance: f=4.0 to 92.0mm; Galvanometer method structure, Auto focus: 8 groups, 11 elements (2 aspheric elements, 2 aspheric surfaces), Built-in neutral density filter

Photos: f=35 – 805mm (=35mm) 23x Optical zoom

Videos: f=35 – 1050mm (=35mm) 30x Adv. zoom

Photo range: 50cm to infinity (wide), 1.0m to infinity (tele) / Super macro: 1cm – 1m (wide)

Digital zoom Shooting: 50x max, Playback: 58x max (10M mode, varies with resolution) Minimum Illumination for Video ~ 10 lux (Auto mode, 1/30 sec.), ~ 4 lux (High-sensitivity/ Lamp mode, 1/15 sec.)

Sensitivity: Auto (ISO50 – 400), Manual (ISO50/100/200/400/800/1600/3200, Switching system)

Digital Image Stabilizer: Photos: Multi-calculation electronic image stabilizer, Videos: Electronic image stabilizer

Uploading Function: Automatic Eye-Fi uploading On/Off, power management, and access point management

Audio: Microphone: Built-in stereo (Sound Zoom), Speaker: Built-in monaural
(L+R ch output)

LCD monitor: 2.7 inch, Low-temperature polysilicon TFT color widescreen LCD display, Approx. 230,000 pixels (7-level brightness, 285 degrees rotation)

Interface: AV output, Video: HDMI/Composite video (NTSC/PAL Audio: Stereo sound), USB: 2.0 (high-speed mode compatible)

Power source: Lithium-ion battery x 1(DB-L90 included: 1200mAh) AC-adaptor

Power consumption: Using battery: 2.9W (when shooting videos)

Approx.Battery Life: Photos: approx.350 shots (CIPA standard), Video: Continuous video filming: ~ 120 min. , Continuous playback: ~ 330 min.

Price: $400

Strengths

  • Easy to Use
  • Good zoom
  • Non proprietary video format

Weaknesses

  • No larger battery packs
  • No optical image stabilization
  • Scratches easily

Summary

Two Sanyo cams with different ways to handle and shoot. The VPC-CS1 is a tiny camera that takes good video and still images and the VPC-SH1 has a compact comfortable fit that’s priced just right for the consumer.

SANYO

21605 Plummer St.

Chatsworth, CA 91311

www.sanyo.com

Tom Cunningham is a photographer, amateur videographer, computer repair technician and private pilot.

Videomaker
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